Friday, 28 August 2009

more cuts to education

i've just been informed of proposed funding cuts to preparatory programmes at our universities. these are programmes for those who haven't managed to pass the NCEA entry requirements for a variety of reasons, and provide an alternative pathway to tertiary education. here are some further details:

Government funding pressures directed at universities and arguments that universities should not provide tertiary study preparation programmes are behind nationwide moves to eradicate university bridging programmes. In the Waikato region, university staff have been informed that there will be a “significant and possibly total reduction” in pre-degree offerings for domestic students.

Apparently, the University of Waikato is currently trying to negotiate with the Tertiary Education Commission to keep offerings which will cater for 80 students a year in its preparation programmes. Even if it succeeds, this is nothing compared with the usual 500 students per year who attend university preparation programmes, here in the Waikato! What will our country look like if only those who have a smooth run through high school get the opportunity to gain degrees? What about valuing diversity, inclusion, and equity?

Many students who do the preparation programmes have an immense contribution to make because they have experienced ‘life’s ups and downs’ at an early age, not to mention the fact that many of them miss UE because they were excelling at sports or taking up overseas exchange opportunities. Surely they deserve the chance to study at university, just like other school leavers!

All this seems to be going on very quietly, without the knowledge of, or discussion with key stakeholders like our local high schools and other organisations which support our young people.

In the current economic climate, we need the university preparation programmes for our young people more than ever. The message about what’s going on needs to be circulated. Funding decisions about the fate of our school leavers are being made by the Tertiary Education Commission, by Monday. After that, the university will be deciding how its commitment to these programmes can or cannot be delivered.

The University of Waikato Vice Chancellor needs to be given a strong message about how important these programmes are to our region so that he is encouraged to negotiate strongly to keep them and to follow through on their delivery after the negotiations. Here is a link being used to send this message to him. There is a letter template which you can add your name to so you can send this vital message directly to the Vice Chancellor. Please don’t hesitate, time is of the essence, but you can make a difference in less than a minute.

Please circulate this message to anyone you think supports these programmes.

another example of cuts being made with little or no consultation, and the bare minimum of publicity. the tertiary sector is already suffering from caps on student numbers, which means that infrastructure and staff resources to education thousands of students across the country will be wasted, because of the caps.

i can't understand the desire to cut access to tertiary education, particulary from a government that wants, apparently, to close the wage gap with australia. upskilling is the best way to improve wages. but this measure to cut preparatory programmes will marginalise those who already haven't been served well by our secondary system. and the whole country loses out when these people are denied the opportunity to improve their situation.


A Nonny Moose said...

A colleague of mine has a wild conspiracy theory (one of many) - he believes the government requires an "underclass" to fill low paid jobs, and cuts like this to education and welfare are a way of keeping people uneducated and stupid (and also less to likely to understand issues behind voting). That's some wierd classist crack he's on.

Alison said...

Cuts to bridging programmes, community education classes, incentives to get people off the dole and into tertiary education. The 90 day trial employment period. How can any government make so much loud noise about creating opportunities for New Zealanders to make their own way in the world and then systematically destroy so many of the routes for underprivileged people to do that? I can't tell if it's a conspiracy, or a complete inability to see the bigger picture.

lenore said...

Another shocking cut will be at the end of next year when refugees will no longer be entitled to a provisional English course and a foundation course which staircases them to be able to undertake further tertiary study.

it is so short sighted as many refugee youth are already falling thorough the system and dropping out of school. When I have met year 12 and year 13 refugees students they are just about all keen to go to uni or some tertiary study but need these programmes otherwise we set them up to fail.

Shame on TEC for dropping these courses and don't be surprised if we have future issues with dispossessed young refugees within the next ten years or so

Anonymous said...

Some of the brightest and best New Zealanders (including at least one in Parliament now - but probably not in National or Act, the one I'm thinking of is certainly not in one of those parties) were given their break by a foundation course.

Moreover, it is Maori and Pacific which are going to be hit hardest by the closure of foundation courses - is the Maori Party fighting this? If not, why not - or have the Maori Party sold out and aligned themselves with middle class Maori who won't be affected by these cuts?

Also, why is it that every other country is increasing expenditure on tertiary education???

At a time when the government says that it is woried about unemployment, uiversities, polytechs and ITPs are having to lay people off and potential students are unable to enrol because the universities, polytechs and ITPs can't afford to take them. Both of which is increasing unemployment.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I heard someone say yesterday that Anne Tolley is the person who will go down in NZ history for destroying our education system. Why would you? Unless you want to keep people from learning so they can't make informed voting decisions! Sorry, but I agree with the Nonny Moose... a hall mark of neoliberalism is to keep a precarious labour market so desperate people can be exploited!

lmrb said...

I was an early dropout from a NZ university, finally enrolled in a prep progam at an Australian university at the age of 40. I could have entered university without the course, but I needed to learn how to write and research all over again. The course entailed fees equivalent to any other uni course, and there were scholarships. Many of the prep students were from low socio-economic backgrounds, many were women who had survived abusive marriages - they all shared the same qualities - intelligence and an eagerness to learn and improve their lives. One student is now a unversity lecturer. The co-ordinator of the course had a PhD - she had dropped out of school at 16. And when we finally made it into university - the teachers loved us. We were older, wiser (maybe) and eager to learn.

Anonymous said...

To Nonny Moose - your colleague is referring to Marx's notion of having a surplus of labour available - use value in good times, no use value in bad times. John Key is a textbook capitalist in Marxist terms.

Julie said...

I just find this utter madness. It goes completely against all the rhetoric about increasing productivity and working smarter.

Cuts are being made right across education, not just in tertiary either, and it scares me. It's a sure way to consign people to the scrap heap :-(

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this stuff Anjum, even if it is depressing.